Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Preschool Picture Books About Art and Artists

Childrens books
Children’s books about art and artists offer opportunities galore for learning! Even when I could take my classes of mini Monets into the art galleries of the museum where I was teaching, I still started class off with a good picture-filled story. Whether you want to introduce your child to a concept such as primary colors, a specific process, a style, an actual artist or use art as a way to learn another lesson (letters, numbers, animals, and so on, an illustrated children’s books is an easy starting point.

Before I get into the books themselves, here are a few of my child-tested ways to use them with kids:

·        Illustrations are art. Always remember that those beautiful, brightly-colored pictures in the books are art in themselves. Tell your child the illustrator’s name and point out that he or she is an artist too. As you page through the book, ask your child to look at the pictures and tell you what she sees. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What’s going on in this picture?” or, “What do you think is happening?”

·        Use focused questions. Along with the general open-ended questions, use a few focused ones that lead your child to what your activity or learning objectives are. For example, if you want to help her learn the color names you could ask something along the lines of, “What color is the little boy’s shirt in this picture?”

·        Stop often for questions or to give answers. Instead of expecting your child to sit quietly and be read to passively, involve her in the process and encourage her to ask questions about what she sees.

·        Invite your child to repeat what you’ve said when introducing new vocabulary words or artists’ names. If you are reading about the primary colors, ask her to say “primary colors” as you point them out. Then have her point to each color on the page and say the name “red”, “blue” or “yellow.”

·        Let your child linger. Don’t flip through the pages too quickly. There’s no race to the finish of a good children’s book. Allow time to gaze at each page or hand the book over to your child and let her flip through it on her own.

Reading about art
Toddlers and Preschoolers: Basic Art Concepts

Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni: One of my favorites. This artsy classic takes the concept of color mixing and makes it relatable by giving the color friends human-like qualities.  This goes beyond just teaching kids about the primaries and moves into the social domain as well.

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh: Another primary paint story that bridges the concept in a way that is completely on the young child’s level. It’s engaging and educational all at the same time!

Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson:  This decades-old classic can help kids to learn more than their colors. Even though the word “purple” figures prominently in the title, this book can help children to use their imaginations and learn about the concept of line.

Color Zoo by Lois Ehlert: Obviously it’s about colors, but the geometric animals can help children to explore, recognize and identify shapes as well.

My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss: It’s not as well-known as the Cat in the Hat, but this Seuss story (illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Francher) offers up a rainbow of colors, connected with emotions! Younger kids can point out the hues that they see, while older children can link the colors with their own feelings.

Famous Artists

When Pigasso Met Mootisse by Nina Laden: Hands down, one of my top kids’ books about art and artists. The imaginary tale of two animal artists at odds with each other – and with very different styles – is a lesson on art, friendships and compromise.

The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse by Eric Carle: Carle’s colorful collage-like illustrations celebrate the work of Expressionist artist Franz Marc in a way that’s totally relatable to preschoolers.

So Many Stars, Andy Warhol (illustrator): A pint-sized look at the famous artist’s world. Pop art for the preschool set!

A Blue Butterfly: A Story About Claude Monet by Bijou Le Tord: Young children can learn about the famous artist, and his gardens in Giverny, while paging through this beautifully illustrated book.

Kids Making Art (About kids making art, not how-to’s)

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! By Karen Beaumont and David Catrow: Messy paint at its best! A great rad if you want to break your child out of coloring in the lines.

A Day With No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch and Chad Cameron:  Teaches a stellar lesson that art is everywhere, meaning that imagination is key – and not necessarily the materials.

Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg: What a life lesson! Mistakes can be beautiful too. If you’re child goes ballistic when her paint smears or she makes a stray crayon mark – and many do – try this book out.

Art Books About the Alphabet

Arches to Zigzags: An Architecture ABC by Michael J. Crosbie, Steve Rosenthal and Kit Rosenthal: Yes, your preschooler can learn what an arch or I-beam is. This primer on basic architecture is also an artsy way to learn the letters.

I Spy: An Alphabet in Art by Lucy Mickelthwait: Some of the most famous artworks (by the likes of Miro and Chagall) accompanying the A,B,C’s.

A is for Art: An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson:  It’s almost like going to the museum, with these amazing alphabet illustrations.

Art Books to Grow On

As your child rounds the school-age years, these books are artsy illustrations of concepts and famed creators.

Linnea in Monet’s garden by Christina Bjork, Lena Anderson and Joan Sadin: It’s art history and child fiction combined!

Uncle Andy’s by James Warhola: Yep, this is by Andy’s nephew. Warhola revisits his Uncle Andy through the eyes of his childhood.

Paris in the Spring with Picasso by Joan Yolleck and Marjorie Priceman: This read brings Paris and Picasso to life with colorful illustrations.

Child literature
Are you looking for famous artist activities to accompany your book? Follow my Pinterest board for tons of ideas!
Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Famous Artist Kids' Activities on Pinterest.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Kids' Butterfly Plant Art Activity

Nature crafts for kids
Combining science and art gets two types of learning in to one kids’ activity! I always enjoy a good science + art project, and lately have been working with icy art. There’s only so much that I can do with ice at one time before I go on brrr!!! cold overload. So, I’m switching it up and moving on to plants.

The other day I was looking at my magnolia tree. It didn’t really bloom well this year because of the extreme cold, but when I took a real look at their leaves I noticed just how intricately beautiful they are. The shape, the texture the tiny veins – and it’s not just magnolias. The flowering parts of plants are sure pretty, but don’t forget about the green stuff too.

Get out into nature and take your child on a leaf hunting expedition. Collect an armful of fallen leaves and head inside (or set up your art-making station outside on the patio or in the grass). Now your child is ready to transform her leaves into a beautiful butterfly!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Leaves

·        Clear drying school glue

·        Card stock or poster board

·        Clay

·        Googley eyes

·        Tissue paper

·        Pom poms

·        Scissors

·        Optional: markers, craft fathers or pipe cleaners

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Glue the leaves onto a piece of paper in a fan shape to make one butterfly wing. Repeat this step to make the second wing.

Leaf craft

2.     Cut the wings out.

Art and science
3.     Place the wings on another piece of paper. Have your child glue them on to make the general butterfly shape.

Insect art
4.     Create a butterfly body and head.  Give your child a few different choices. She can glue a line of pom poms down the center of the wings or glue one pom pom at the top (as a head) and make a clay body.

Pom pom
5.     If your child chooses clay, cover it with a textured tissue paper collage. Tear pieces of tissue and have your child ball them up. She can glue them to the clay.

Color paper
6.     Make antennae. Your child can glue two craft fathers, pipe cleaners or draw them on with markers.

Insect activity for kids
7.     Glue googley eyes to the head.

Nature-based art
Are you looking for science and art ideas? Follow my Pinterest board or check me out on Facebook!
Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Preschool Art and Science Activities on Pinterest.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cherry Red Coconut S'mores

Coconut kids food

I’m mostly all about kids’ art activities, but occasionally I take on a child-friendly recipe or two. I use the word “recipe” loosely – as I’m not a cook, not do I pretend to be one. I joke that I can only make stacked things; which leaves me with a half decent lasagna and s’mores. Recently, I’ve been on a s’mores kick. A few weeks ago I made pink princess s’mores. Strawberries were in season, so I added them to the “recipe” for a pink marshmallow hue.

Cherries are everywhere right now, so today I took on cherry red coconut s’mores. I have a major sweet tooth, and these definitely quieted my sugar craving.  And yes, these are as tasty as they sound!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Marshmallows

·        Cherries (the real ones, not the bottled maraschino ones)

·        Graham crackers

·        Chocolate

·        Red crystalized sugar

·        Coconut

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Color the marshmallows red. Hint: This is a great opportunity to add in a lesson on colors with your child. My son is 12 and thought that the dyed treats looked like they were covered in blood—so go ahead and save this one for Halloween also. Put a few marshmallows in a bowl. Squeeze cherries over them. Paint the remaining white spaces with the leftover cherry mush.
Kids' foods

2.     Sprinkle coconut over the cherry-covered marshmallows, covering them completely.
S'more style

3.     Stack the s’more. Graham cracker, chocolate, marshmallow graham cracker.
Chocolate treat

4.     Heat it up. While I prefer campfire s’mores, the cherry and coconut-covered marshmallows seemed to do better in the microwave. Do this step for your child, and make sure that the s’mores aren’t too hot before she eats them. I heated my sugary stack for 10 seconds. But, microwaves vary, so you will need to adjust for your appliance.
Childrens' Desserts

5.     Shake glittery crystalized sugar over the whole thing. You can find this sparkly red sugar in the baking aisle or you can make your own by mixing red food coloring with course sugar.
Sweet kids' food

Hooked on the sugary treats and need another recipe? Follow my Pinterest board for all the sweet s’mores that you and your child can handle making!
Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Sweet S'mores on Pinterest.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Negative Space Art: Kids' Leaf Paint Activity

Science craft

Combining early childhood art and science has been on my mind a lot lately. What better way to get hands-on and explore concept such as nature or physical properties than with an imaginative art activity? Recently, I posted on DIY glow in the dark ice (it’s super-cool – literally – and the kids have a blast trying to figure out what makes it seem to magically light up) and frozen color mixing. I’ve been somewhat hung up on liquid to solid to liquid transformations, so I’m switching it up and focusing on nature.

Not only does this art activity add in a touch of science, but it offers an opportunity for your child to explore the concept of negative space! Negative space is the area around an object. Yes, this is a terribly complex concept for the young child to easily grasp. But, this project will give her a concrete comparison that takes an out-there idea and makes it understandable.

So, let’s get on with the art-making process--

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        A leaf (or your child can try another flat object)

·        School glue

·        Tempera paint

·        A paint roller or brush

·        Paper

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Place the leaf on a piece of paper. Your child can also use a cut out shape (cut a piece of card stock or an index card) or a similar type of flat object.
Nature craft

2.     Squeeze a few dabs of tempera paint around the leaf. Use a few different colors, putting them in different areas. This gives your child the chance to mix colors.
Kids' colorful art

3.     Paint the entire piece of paper. Help your child to hold down the leaf, making it completely flat. She can roll or brush the paint, blending and mixing the colors, across the paper and over the leaf.
Plant art activity for kids
Paint with colors

4.     Peel the leaf off to reveal the negative space (the area is blank paper color, while the rest is paint-covered).
Childrens science art

5.     Glue the painted leaf onto another piece of paper.
Plant art activity

6.     Put the two papers side by side to compare the negative and positive spaces.
Crafts for kids

Display the two pieces of your child’s artwork next to each other or glue them onto a larger piece of poster board next to each other.

Are you looking for more creative arts and crafts for your child to try? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas! And, don't forget to sign up for the Mini Monets and Mommies email list to get my posts directly in your inbox!
Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Creative Kids Crafts on Pinterest.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Kids' Balloon Paint Splatter Art Activity

Balloon art

Who doesn’t love balloons? They signify a celebration and bring a smile to almost every kid’s face! Add a splash (literally, a splash) of paint to them and what do you have? An action-packed art adventure with color splatters. I have a drawer filled with balloons that are left over from a snowball game that I played with some of my students last winter. Instead of leaving them packed away, my son and I blew up a few and brought them outside – with some paints.

What happened next was magnificently messy. You can do this activity inside if the weather isn’t cooperating, but you do need to prep your work area first. You can use garbage bags, cardboard or another barrier. Keep in mind, the paint will splatter. Just because your white couch is four feet away doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily safe. If you take the art-making outside you can simply hose off the mess. While the warmer months and dry weather may make it easier to try this activity outdoors, if there’s snow on the ground or rain falling from the sky, your child will get a water color effect to her paint project.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Balloons

·        Tempera paints

·        A paint tray—I used a plastic-ware lid. You can also use a piece of scrap cardboard.

·        Paper – A larger piece will capture more of the paint.

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Pour pools of a few different colors of paints onto the tray. Separate them by a few inches.
Paint splatter activity

2.     Blow up a balloon or two.

3.     Set the paper down on the ground.

4.     Drop the balloon into the paint. Let it roll. The more that your child rolls the balloon through the pain, the more the colors will mix and blend.
Kids' process art

Art paint splatter
5.     Pick up the balloon. Have your child use the knotted end as a handle. Have her move the balloon over the paper and let her drop it.
Childrens' paint

6.     Repeat the process to make more paint splatters and prints on the paper.
Child paint

When your child is all done with the art-making add a special surprise activity. Stay outside or cover everything around her. Put the paint-covered balloon on a piece of paper and pop it for her (DO NOT let your child do this step herself). Admittedly, I discovered just how amazing the splatter of a paint-filled balloon popping is purely by accident. I did not prep for the mess and everything (including my white skirt, my son’s backpack and my dining room table) were covered in paint. That said, it was super-fun in a way that only a rainbow explosion can be.
The paint splatter mess!
The paint splatter beauty!

Are you looking for more creative crafts for your child? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!

Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Creative Kids Crafts on Pinterest.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cherry Glitter Art for Kids: Paint with Nature

Science and art for kids

It’s cherry season, and I’m ready to make some nature-based art! I’ve been super obsessed with science and art activities lately. This one is no exception. Instead of just smooshing a bowl of cherries to get that pretty red juice out for our little artists to paint with, turn the entire process into a science exploration.

Give your child a bowl of cherries—only after you’ve prepped for the mess. Cherries stain and this activity creates splashes, splatters and all kinds of staining possibilities. Cover the table with an opened garbage bag, cardboard or a cheapo vinyl tablecloth. Dress your child in “messy” clothes or his art smock.  When he’s ready to experiment, set the cherries down in front of him and let him make his own discoveries. Encourage him to use all of his senses:
Nutrition for kids

Taste: Take the pits out and let him try the cherries.

Smell: Take a sniff to see if they smell as sweet as they taste.

Sight: Look at the cherries. Sure, he knows that they are round and red, but what’s inside? Help your child to investigate all of the parts of the fruit with his eyes.
Preschool nature

Feel: Let your child squish and mush them between his fingers (he’ll start creating the paint for the project).
Process Exploration

Sound: Even though cherries don’t make an actual sound, he can listen for the drips and drops that come out of them as he squishes the fruit.

Now he’s ready to start the art-making.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        Cherries

·        A bowl

·        A paintbrush

·        Paper

·        Glitter

·        Vegetable oil

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Take the squished cherries from the sensory exploration and let your child finger paint with them on plain white paper.

2.     Add a capful of vegetable oil to the rest of the cherry mush. Have your child stir it with the paintbrush. The oil will make the cherry paint easier to spread and help to hold in some of the glitter that you’re about to add.

3.     Pour in sparkling glitter. Use as much or as little as your child wants. Stir it together.
Cherry sparkles

4.     Paint! Your child is ready to spread his natural glitter creation all over a piece of paper. He can make abstract art, shapes, swirls or a picture of whatever he pleases.
Childrens activities

Are you looking for more kids’ art activities? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas!


Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Creative Kids Crafts on Pinterest.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Frozen Color Mixing: Abstract Art Activity with a Science Splash

primary color art

Frozen ice paint! I’ve been kind of obsessed with it lately. Maybe it’s my love for creating preschool art activities that are infused with science or maybe it’s that it’s mid-summer and I feel like I’m living on the sun. Not that I‘m complaining, but after a super-cold winter that was packed with almost daily school delays because of the extreme cold (I’m not entirely sure what difference two hours makes in the temperature, but it sure was chilly) the summer heat seems warmer than usual. So, I’m back again, posting an ice activity.

Combine abstractly artsy splatter paint (ala Jackson Pollock) with the science of color mixing and states of matter transformations. Sounds like a lot in one activity, right? It’s actually surprisingly simple – and magnificently messy! I highly suggest that you bring the kids outside to make this frozen art. Pick an area that is far away from your patio furniture or anything that isn’t easily cleaned. It’s more than likely that your child will get messy too. Dress her in clothes that you don’t care about getting dirty and let her run through the sprinkler before she goes back inside. It won’t get her completely clean but it will give you a head start. Now, get ready for a messy way to play with the primary colors!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

·        An ice cube tray

·        Water

·        Food coloring or colorful drink mix

·        Three buckets, jars or large-sized plastic ware containers

·        White paper, poster board or an old white sheet

Here’s What to Do:

1.     Make ice cubes in the primary colors (red, yellow and blue). Drip a drop of food coloring into each compartment (one color per compartment) and add water. You can also use red, yellow and blue drink mixes.

2.     Put the tray in the freezer. Ask your child to predict what will happen to the colorful water. Check in on the ice to observe how it is freezing.

3.     Fill three buckets or containers with water. Add a few drops of food coloring (again, one red, one yellow and one blue) to each container of water.

Art and science

4.     Bring the water outside. Place each container on a piece of paper or a white sheet. You can also prop up another piece of paper standing up behind the container.

5.     Pop the frozen ice cubes out of the tray. Bring them outside.
Frozen science

6.     Mix the colors! Have your child pick one ice cube color and toss it into a different hue. For example, she can through blue into yellow. Let her splash away, tossing the ice into the water with enough force to make the colors spray out onto the paper. As the ice starts to melt the water will change colors. Ask your child to figure out why the yellow water is suddenly turning green (this is a great opportunity to talk about color mixing and making secondary colors from the primaries, as well as solid to liquid melting transformations).
Ice art
Frozen colors
primary color art


7.     Repeat the ice tossing step with the other color containers. Continue on adding more ice and more colors to each container. As the colors splash out they will hit the paper, creating an abstract piece of art. You can reposition or move the containers to cover different parts of the paper.
Water colors

Process Art

Are you looking for more combo art and science activities to try? Follow my Pinterest board for ideas. Or you can check out some of these ice art and science activities:

Glow in the dark ice paint

Glowing paint

Layered color cubes

Frozen paints

Chalk ice finger paints

Chalk finger paints

Glitter ice paint

Sparkle kids' activity
Follow Mini Monets and Mommies's board Preschool Art and Science Activities on Pinterest.